The New York Jets are going to be a bad team in the 2017 NFL season, and the collection of quarterbacks is a significant reason why. Last year’s second-round draft pick, Christian Hackenberg, continues to seemingly struggle to show reasons to be optimistic about his development and future with the Jets as the team goes through organized team activities this week. During these practices, Hackenberg continued to struggle with accuracy, and that meant reporters observing practice had to duck for cover.
“When Hackenberg misses he really misses,” NJ.com reporter Connor Hughes said after one practice. “He threw just two interceptions in team drills, but nearly tossed six others. And I’m not talking about a receiver falling down. I’m saying the defender just dropped the ball. Other times, the wideout/running back/tight end was wide open, and Hackenberg sailed it over his head or bounced it to him. That can’t happen.”
It got worse.
“In the three media-open OTAs, Hackenberg hit reporters with passes twice.”
On the flip side, however, Hackenberg also showed some good signs as well with some good throws and good arm strength. He is also still young enough to be able to improve his game and develop into a passer the Jets or some other NFL team may be able to count on. One of the biggest concerns for Hackenberg is being too erratic. He has a tendency to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with his roller coaster performance of being a locked in precision passer one moment and then throwing footballs and hitting reporters the next.
When it comes to Hackenberg, I cannot help but go back to one of the great “what if” questions you can ask about him. What if Bill O’Brien didn’t leave Penn State after one year of coaching Hackenberg? O’Brien, now the head coach of the Houston Texans, recruited Hackenberg to Penn State in the midst of the hefty sanctions being levied against the program in the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky atomic bomb in State College. As a freshman and with O’Brien calling the shots on offense, Hackenberg looked like a true future stud quarterback. But after Hackenberg’s promising freshman season, O’Brien was off to the NFL to coach the Texans, and James Franklin was hired as the new head coach at Penn State.
The offense, for a handful of reasons, was much different in the early going under Franklin and Hackenberg’s efficiency quickly took a hit. After two frustrating seasons under Franklin, Hackenberg left school early to get started in the NFL. A player that once looked like he was a lock to be a first-round pick ended up being a late second-round selection of the New York Jets in 2016.
The Jets need somebody to jump out and prove worthy of being the starting quarterback in 2017. It may end up being Josh McCown, with Hackenberg and Bryce Petty each trying to claim they can handle the job as well. Brace yourselves for a long season, Jets fans.